COUNTY council officials have been commended for the way in which they have trained contact centre and business support staff to deal more effectively with people who have hearing loss.

Buckinghamshire County Council sent 72 workers on a course which centred on identifying causes and types of deafness and ways to improve access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

It earned the council's contact centre a "Louder Than Words" charter mark from the charity Action on Hearing Loss.

Steve Bignell, BCC’s operations manager for customer contact, is now calling on other local authorities to follow suit.

He said: "Staff felt very engaged. The feedback I received from them was probably the best I have ever had after any outsourced training. It opened people’s eyes. They felt empowered and better equipped.

"The process gave a real insight into the difficulties and challenges that people with hearing loss experience."

The centre’s procedures were overhauled as a result of the training course, including the purchase of a portable hearing loop and using alternative forms of communication such as text messaging.

The centre, based at County Hall in Aylesbury, handles 350,000 calls and emails from the public a year across a wide variety of council services.